Chief Charumbira Calls for Fortification of Traditional Leadership in Africa


Chief Fortune Charumbira, who is the President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the President of Zimbabwe’s Chiefs Council, said traditional leadership should be recognised as democratic institutions that enjoy the endorsement and acceptance of the people they represent. This happened at the signing ceremony of a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Cooperation Agreement [PDF] between the PAP and the United Royal Assembly led by His Imperial Highness Prince Estifanos Matewos, a direct descent of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia.

His Imperial Highness Chief Charumbira and Prince Estifanos Matewos shaking hands after signing MoU. Image courtesy of PAP Media

The momentous occasion was witnessed by the 2nd Vice President of the PAP Hon. Ashebiri Gayo of Ethiopia, the Presidential Advisor Hon. McHenry Venaani of Namibia, as well as, Dr. Liaqat Alli Azam the CEO of Leading Like Mandela. The occasion was also the second time HIH Prince Estifanos visited the PAP premises, in pursuit of the vision he shares with PAP President Hon. Chief Charumbira of strengthening traditional leadership and governance systems on the African continent.

Hon. Chief Charumbira, addressing the significance of the occasion, highlighted the need to fortify the traditional leadership in Africa, which he regarded as democratic institutions based on the endorsement and acceptance of the people under those kingdoms. He stated, “Although some of us are very clear that what we call democratic institutions, traditional institutions, royalty is in fact democratic institutions to the extent that the people under those kingdoms fully endorse that leadership and accept it as a legitimate leadership because democracy, at the end of the day, what it does is to ensure that leaders are legitimate.”

Chief Charumbira refuted the fallacy that royal systems and inheritance are undemocratic, asserting, “So the process of voting brings legitimacy to that leadership acceptance by the followers, traditional leadership kingdoms royalty is also fully legitimate to the extent that the followers fully accept.” He criticized the colonial administration for wrongly portraying traditional leadership as obsolete, stating, “It is the colonial system of administration which brought the fallacy that royal system, royal inheritance is undemocratic, which is not true.”

Dr. Laquat Azam, speaking on behalf of Prince Estifanos the President of the United African Royal Assembly, expressed gratitude for the symbolic move of partnering with the Pan-African Parliament. He emphasized the importance of the partnership in shedding light on Africa and celebrating 60 years of African unity. Dr. Azam stated, ” This is the Africa we want together as we are celebrating 60 years of African partners. Part of the Royal institutions leaders have come together in unity today for us to unite.”

His Imperial Highness Estifanos Matewos, when asked about the motivation behind the partnership with the Pan-African Parliament, explained, “Because of my great grandfather, Emperor Menelik, we have never been colonized, it was other people wanting to lead all the people caused internal wars. We were not standing together but he united the people to stand against Italian colonization.” He further shared his vision, “For the past 27 years it has always been in my mind to bring all people together to bring our work together to empower kingdoms”, Prince Estifanos said.

The signing of the MoU between the Pan-African Parliament and the United African Royal Assembly signified a historic collaboration aimed at fostering mutual programs, sharing views, and seeking a common direction and purpose for the benefit of the African continent and its citizens. This landmark agreement is expected to fortify governance systems on the continent by combining the democratic institution of parliament, composed of elected representatives, with the embedded community leadership derived from traditional systems.



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